Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Age of Aquarius

The month of January was half over when the celebrations began.  First John's birthday dinner at Church and State in downtown Los Angeles.  Arriving in the rain with our friends Eric and Olga we ducked inside only getting a quick peek of the outside street scene.   Our priorities in order we met with the sommelier.  John pre-selected three bottles from our cellar.   A bottle of  2000 Turley Zinfandel Hayne Vineyard, next 2002 Alto Moncayo Campo de Borja Aquilon, third bottle-2000 Hermitage Paul Jaboulet Aine' La Chapelle.   The only thing I can recall is that the sommelier thought the bottle of Turley was corked- it did have a light mildewy smell, which after letting it breathe for a few minutes  dissipated and  was happily consumed, as were the other two bottles.
Having done some research and decided prior to arriving that we would try some of the more unusual offerings we began or order just after being seated.  Our meal began with an assortment of appetizers: Escargot in puff pastry chefs hats sitting in little pots, marrow served beside thin slices of grilled bread with  radish parsley salsa.  Last and most memorable, pigs ears.  Eric immediately dug in happily feasting upon the  triangular fried pieces.  I eyed them and found they  resembled and smelled like fried zucchini.  My first bite was very oozey.  hmmm? "Oh it has cheese inside?" Then the overwhelming physical realization that what I was actually experiencing was the melted ear oozing in to my mouth!   Once recovered, I decided to ignore the plate for the rest of the evening.  Happy to move on, the entree's arrived my petite steak au poivre was perfection.  Everyone feeling well fed and watered the attention went to the suspicious looking character near the door who resembled a thug from a Hong Kong martial arts movie we watched him with great interest and made up many stories of who he was and why he was there...or where were we?

 Great food and fantastic fantasy we ventured out in to the rain.  again where were we?  The neighborhood has been transformed in this part of  downtown.  Gritty Al's Bar, my hang in the 1980's long gone was just around the corner from where now stands Posh eateries, Gen Y lofts and gastro-pubs.

With only 4 days to prepare next was Otis' 13th birthday.  Invitees: 40 of Otis' 12,13 and 14 year "closest" friends.  The great thing about this age is that  teenagers don't need party characters, reptile man or any other conjurores to entertain them.  This is also a mandatory drop off situation- NO parents!  Happiest being with each other- preferably alone.. except the few who wanted a tour of the house and were perfectly happy to discuss couture, cooking,wallpaper and designer furniture.  This is L.A after all...
After a homemade taco bar feast about half the group retired to the screening room.  Inspired by the character we spied at Church and State just days before we suggested  watching "Kung Fu Hustle."

While the rest jumped on the wet trampoline, or danced in the strobe lit disco I swept the wet jacaranda leaves scattered like mouse droppings throughout the house.   Teenage partiers picked up and 9 kids staying for a sleepover meant one thing- midnight martial arts ninja war!  Quickly transformed from teenage boys to Ninja's, assassins, weilding whatever weaponry they could find,they ran about in teams inside and out of the house for what seemed like hours all the while I swept more wet jacaranda leaves from the stairs... I was happy to see that at 13, although he has matured in to a young man with sophisticated interests Otis hasn't lost his creative and playful spirit , and neither have his friends.

Millie's 7th Birthday approaching  I had become a hobbit collecting bits of bark, branches, and seed pods. Researching small faery dwellings and distracted by what I would call myself in the fairy world.. I had began noticing that people in the plant world seem to have uncommon names that personify terra.  Take the name of garden guru Flora Grubb.  Her name conjures a Victorian painting.  My favorite? Burl Mostul - my mother's friend  who I have never met, and has a nursery of exotic plants in Oregon. Not being blessed with a name that gives way to an occupation I am still giving my name thought.  Back to work.  This was to be a faery house building party.   I had enlisted my personal garden guru, my mother Eva- even she has a earthen name.  She collected moss, bark, some magical looking lichen that appeared to glow in the dark, and sent the 18lb box to me from Oregon.  Opening the box I was transported to the damp,mossy woods and trees' surrounding my parents house.  I spread the delicacies from their forest out to dry in preparation for our project.

Rain,rain go away come again some other day I chanted the morning of the party- Glue, bells, feathers, moss and little peet pots ready the sky cleared and 20 little girls descended upon the box of treaures to create the most spectacular miniature faery dwellings.

Back inside we prepared a tea party where mountains of soft white crustless bread was being spread with dark chocolate and strawberry jam, cucumber sliced and paired with Kerrygold butter;  for the adults, salmon, dill and cream cheese and tomato,basil and mozzarella.  Overflowing bowls with strawberries, and blue berries sat perched and waiting ... large glass bottles of lemon aid on the table; hot mint and chamomile tea were steeped.   Roses the color of faded faery linens in old tea tins covered the table.

                                          Photo by Olga Roth

 I think even The Mad Hatter would have been impressed!  The cold little girls descended upon the table with delight and party number three brought the season to a very happy ending!

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